You were wild once, don’t let them tame you
She sits on the kerb with her bare feet on the black tarmac of our cul-de-sac. She kicks her heels every now and again, puts her knees and ankles together, hugs her legs. But her default position is feet at odd angles, elbow on one knee, hand propping up her chin.
Mia hates to wear shoes, or anything on her feet for that matter.
So her feet are black; always black. Best you don’t look to be honest, because it looks like she never washes them when in fact I’m constantly scrubbing at her nails and despairing of how the bottom of her feet are never ‘pink’ any more.
She’s clutching a tennis racquet in her hands, waiting for a friend to come and join her for a game of hitting the ball against the wall.
Like her toes, her fingernails are filled with dirt. Her hands are covered in felt pen from practising her times tables on the makeshift white board she’s created in her bedroom. Requests to stop using her hands to wipe old ink off falls on deaf ears. She has no time for the actual foam rubbers, fingers are much quicker.
As she sits there, she constantly rubs an eye or puts a hand near her mouth and I utterly despair.
Her hair is as nature intended; loose and free-flowing and blowing in the wind. No bands, or bobbles, no plaits, no bunches or pretty adornments. It looks like it was last brushed a week ago. It flops over her one eye so she has to move it every now and again with the back of one hand.
Just yesterday I blow dried it so it was sleek and shiny and fell like dark liquid down her back. And she tolerates it because she know it pleases me. But it’s not her. It’s not how she’s most comfortable.
She’s wearing denim shots and a vest. Nothing special, in fact, she probably chose it because it took seconds to put on and means she can either climb, run or play whatever the situation demands when her friend shows up.
Mia is a free spirit. She lives to the beat of her own drum.
It has been a huge parenting issue for us; she won’t listen, she’ll do the opposite of what you ask, she drifts off somewhere else when you’re talking to her.
She does that thing where she spins, round and round and round, her head flung back, her hair whipping around her cheeks, making herself dizzy. Getting high on life with her face turned to the sunshine as if she knows it will fill her with even more energy to do the things she loves.
And what she wants to do is climb trees, stomp through mud puddles, chase the dog, ride her bike, sit in the long grass. Things many eight year olds are now leaving behind as the lure of ‘girl stuff’ tugs at them.
Mia doesn’t want to paint her nails or do her hair, she wants to sit on the kerb and wait for someone to come along and play.
She looks so content. With her filthy feet and her scuffed knees.
This wild child doesn’t need taming, she needs nurturing. And as a parent I need to find a way to make it work for all of us, because this is her happy place.
NOTE: In case you recognise the title of this blog post, it’s a quote from American author Henry David Thoreau.